A new synthetic material has been discovered by British researchers which paves the way for “stem cell factories,” as the mass production of human stem cells has been dubbed.
Experiencing a major heart attack usually kills roughly five billion heart cells. Researchers are looking into designing stem cell treatments that will provide the replacement of these heart cells and more, attempting to increase the patient’s chances of survival by doing so.
The artificial material has the ability to provide in mass these stem cells for clinical use, such as treating the brain, heart or liver. According to senior researcher Prof Morgan Alexander, who lectures on biomedical surfaces at University of Nottingham, regenerative medicine is still under research, and it hasn’t developed past clinical trials.
A fairly recent branch of traditional medicine, regenerative therapy looks for new treatment based on man-made stem cells. For these treatments to become available for the larger population in a safe and effective environment, stem cells need to be manufactured in large batches.
On the other hand, by making ‘stem cell factories’ possible, regenerative medicine is provided with the main product without the costs and ethical implications that usually come with using actual human stem cells.
Alexander’s project has already spent 2.3 million pound in researching for “polymers on which human pluripotent stem cells can be grown and differentiated in vast numbers – billions at a time,” as he explained in the study published in the journal Advanced Materials.
This man-made material is a breakthrough in the field, as researchers discovered that its most important quality is being free from possible batch variability or contamination. Even though he was not involved in the study, Prof Chris Denning of the University of Nottingham expressed his interest in the way the field of regenerative medicine will benefit from this discovery.
Last five years have represented a launching platform for this specific field, and the upcoming years will make stem cell treatments a lot more available to patients. Denning is confident that, even though this treatment is still in early clinical trials, getting it validated by regulators might bring it to the shelves in two to three years.
The new stem cell treatment might help patients who suffer from conditions of the brain, heart, or liver; the most advanced stem-cell-based therapy so far treats eye disorders.
Image Source: BioEdge